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Back-up tools for Office 365

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Started this question a while back on Yammer. What tools do you use to back-up mail and files stored in Office 365?

 

The fact that your files are back-upped inside and outside the datacenters of Microsoft only protects you against hardware and software failures on Microsofts side. It will not protect you against accidentally deleted files and mails, which is discovered after 30+ days or after the site trashbins have been emptied.

 

At least that's what I think. Anyone has an answer? My customers are typically small companies, under 10 users. Sometimes even just 1 to 3.

 

I use de SkyKick Back-up tools in my own O365 tenant. Which was an offer in the Microsoft Partner Mail recently.

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DocAve. I have Metavis/Metalogix and it is terrible for backup. 

Tnx. Metavis/Metalogix aren't looking very promising indeed. But I can't get a good feeling about back-up functionality in DocAve either. Am not looking for a lot more then back-up. What about pricing? What do we consider an acceptable pricing model?

There is not a good story around this at present.  Most tools are extensions from the on-prem counterpart.  So you can find good SharePoint backups, but mail is usually non-existent, or not that flexible, and vice versa.  Further with the integration, you have complications of some data, in regards to how to restore it (o365 Groups, Planner, etc).  Beyond SharePoint and Exchange, you have stuff like data in Azure AD, Yammer, O365 Video, and PowerBI which as far as I know are not addressed by any product at present.  Most if not all of them fall short in terms of eDiscovery as well.  You also have to consider how the backup products keep up with changes to the service as Microsoft updates API's or adds services that complicate the backup and restore processes. 

 

Based on the size of your customers, I find it hard that you are able to sell an additional service at all.  The value prop is almost non-existant.   The native tools you have can protect against accidental deletion in most cases.  If they are having issues with people manually cleaning up recoverable items folders, or SharePoint recycle bins, there is a larger issue at play as that is willfully circumventing the tools meant to protect from these scenarios.  You can leverage the legal hold features if their tenant supports them to provide an additional layer or protection as well.  I would not do this on every SharePoint site, but with high value content, you could do that and documents are copied into a hidden library.

 

 

You are not without "Backups" entirely when relying on Microsoft.  SharePoint is backed up every 12 hours and data kept for 14 days.  You don't get item level restores, but you can request a site collection be restored.  For Exchange, it can be scary to think Microsoft does not use backups, but they do keep lagged copies, so that in the event of an issue, they can swap your databases to a time previous when an issue was detected.  You can't request this change directly, but it's there. 

 

The real benefit of a 3rd party,  is in the peace of mind it gives some people.  But in almost all cases just a little education up front can avoid most of this complication.   Let's face it whether it's Microsoft, Google, Amazon or any other cloud service, you have to trust them with your data and that their processes and systems will protect you from data loss.  I find Microsoft services to be very reliable, and I generally feel more confident about the data there than I do in a lot of customers local SharePoint deployments. 

Thank you! I agree it's hard to make a case with an organisation of just 2 users. They have 2 user mailboxes and use the default teamsite with several document libraries to store documents. I could just setup one of their computers to synchronize al libraries and create a weekly (?) back-up using the native back-up tool in Windows.

 

But it's the peace of mind your talking about that makes me think about getting an Office 365 back-up tool. Because, what if they start using multiple teamsites and forget to add them to the Onedrive synchronization and thus the back-up. And also the fact that mail isn't back-upped at all.

 

The tool I got through the Microsoft Partner Network, SkyKick Back-up, would cost €5,- per seat per month. So in the case of my customer with 2 users it would cost them €10,- a month, to have a full (6 times a day) back-up of all their SharePoint and Onedrive file storage and all their Exchange mailboxes. But does it cover what they need (I think so, cause they are doing everything with files :) ) and is that worth €240,- a year?

 

BTW: I'm not worried about the default back-up of Office 365 by Microsoft. So the back-up solution I'm looking for has everything to do about accidentally deleting files. Or, more important, the fact that a virus can corrupt or encrypt files. I think that is my primary fear: how do I protect my customers against cryptovirusses? Cause I don't believe Microsoft is protecting against that?

When we were using Google Apps a few years back Spanning was the best backup solution we came across and was the insurance for accidentally deleted files in our organization. It has great functionality especially the different options for restoring data and they have released a version for backing up Office 365 data (only Email, Calendar and OneDrive unfortunately). Another contender is Backupify, which started as a consumer backup service but moved into the enterprise space. They offer a backup solution for Office 365 too and have the advantage of backing up folders and SharePoint in addition to Email, Calendar and OneDrive. We have the backup problem on our roadmap, but it has a low priority so we haven't started planning or testing yet, but maybe these options are of interest.

I recommend UPSAFE. It is an easy handling solution, which allows you to back up all your Google Apps and Office365 features including Mail, OneDrive, People, Calendar, SharePoint. Unlike most of the competitor's solutions and free back up services, UpSafe offers unlimited storage capacity with no retention limit, which includes revisions as well. Moreover, it is convenient and instinctive tool both for final users and administrators.

 

As an administrator, you will have full control on the backed up features, users subscription, access and use of the solution. You can activate and deactivate users, enable and disable services, control the back up deletion and have a clear view on history and payment. Users will have fast and easy access to their data in case of loss of wrong manipulation, as well as all revisions they might need to recover.

 

Furthermore, the price is highly competitive with only $2 per user per month.

Don't bother, unless you want a solution that is able to recover individual files. Most if not all of the current backup solutions don't deal well with Office 365 applications. https://www.itunity.com/article/no-good-answers-office-365-backups-3513
Thank you, nice article!
Spanning does a good job for Google Apps and has done their best for Office 365. However, you can't compare Google Apps to Office 365 because things like the Native Data Protection features of Exchange doesn't exist there. It is the existence of features like NDP (if used correctly by tenants) that makes me wonder whether backups are necessary - unless mandated by external influences, such as audit requirements.
Spanning is a great solution for Backing up Office 365 Mail and OneDrive, very easy to use and restore items and can even give end users access to restore their own backups.

Druva have expanded their Insync product to include OneDrive and Exchange Online. Sharepoint Online and OneDrive for Business are on the roadmap for next year. http://www.druva.com/products/insync/

 

An interesting point of difference is their product can also backup other Cloud products, local machines, servers and VMS as well as monitor and alert on compliance issues across all of the places a user is keeping data.

Now that NGSC is robust (https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/OneDrive-for-Business/My-compliments-to-One-Drive-for-Busines...) you can have a full synchronized copy of each users' ODFB on their local PC.  I use Carbonite to backup each ODFB full data set to their cloud every day.  Carbonite keeps multipe versions of files for up to 3 months, in case you accidentally delete something.  In conjunction with that, once a quarter, I back up each local ODFB to a folder on a USB 3.0 hardware encrypted hard drive, which will never be used again.  (The folder will never get overwritten.  Additional versions of the folder are added each quarter as space permits).  So, I always have a point-in-time backup that captures everything on ODFB before anything is deleted by Carbonite.  Here's the hard drive that I use:  http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/itemdetails/0A65621/460/DD2DC2671912409D84A59A3EABAD4044

 

Since these backups never get overritten, the drive will eventually fill up and need to be retired and replaced.  You can safely leave them running overnight, because they keypad on the drive accepts a robust encryption key so, if it gets stolen, it will be difficult for them to access the data.

 

Carbonite is $60 per year per user, so not onerous for a small business, and well worth the backstop.  The encrypted drives are around $200 each.  Don't know how many you'll need.  Depends on space requirement but, again, a valuable backstop.

 

 

Another one is Barracuda for e-mail, OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online

By the way, the advent of Microsoft Teams has increased the complexity of the challenge of backup for Office 365. The items created in teams now have to be backed up and then reassembled if required. Teams joins Groups, Planner, Office 365 Video, et al. as examples of applications that exist inside Office 365 that don't on-premises, meaning that on-premises backup tools that attempt to expand into the cloud struggle to cope with the full breadth of Office 365.

 

The net is that current backup products are capable of copying basic data (Exchange, SharePoint) but struggle with the newer parts of Office 365. This might be sufficient for your needs, but I suspect that things will become more complex over time as Microsoft develops more applications to leverage the unique capabilities of Office 365.

 

Backup vendors - if you have a product that can truly backup the entire data for an enterprise tenant from Exchange to SharePoint to Yammer and the applications cited above to Sway - and is capable of restoring all the data in such a way that the applications work (or at least, sense can be made of the restored data), then I am happy to learn and write about the product. I have been looking for years... and although I see offerings, I don't see point solutions rather an a service-wide answer. Maybe I have been looking in the wrong place?

This actually came up as a topic when we were purchasing DocAve. They mentioned that it's something they're working on (the ability to back up content in Groups), but does not exist yet. None of the vendors can back up the entirety of O365 at this point, because Microsoft does not make it accessible to third parties. 

"Microsoft does not make it accessible..."

 

Or is it that the backup vendors have not done the work to figure out what they need and how this data might be retrieved?

 

After all, the Microsoft Graph API is a pretty good way to get at most data inside Office 365. There are gaps, but those gaps will only be filled if people complain. 

 

But leaving the Graph aside, I suspect that a more pressing issue is how to scale up to backup the data for very large tenants in a reasonable period. APIs like the Graph are good at doing things like "Tell me my appointments for today" or "Show me the documents that I have shared with x", but they are not designed to stream gigabytes of data from Office 365 to a cloud backup vendor's datacenter.

You can use the Layer2 Cloud Connector to keep SharePoint Online lists and libraries in sync with other data sources like databases, ERP/CRM, file shares, or SharePoint on-prem. This includes one-way sync for migration / backup as well as permanent sync in a hybrid environment.

@Frank Daske Sure, but that connector only handles basic SharePoint data. That's valuable in its own way, but the point I am making is that backup products need to up their game to deal with the reality that Office 365 is not a cloud equivalent of an on-premises environment. Therefore, backups need to be Office 365-aware instead of application-centric.

Tony, I totally agree at that point. Office 365 is an offering that consists of many services with different APIs and storage. That makes classical backup / restore procedures difficult to apply to. I don't think that we will see a "universal approach" soon...